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Safety at work is employer's duty


Under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are expected to maintain a safe work environment.

While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration does provide guidance through guidelines and training and reference materials, a set of best practices for workplace violence preparedness was promulgated in September 2011 by ASIS International, a trade organization for security professionals, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Both Alexandria, Va.-based organizations are members of the American National Standards Institute, a standards-setting organization based in Washington.

John Lane, Los Angeles-based vp of crisis management and resilience consulting at Control Risks Group Holdings Ltd., said the new ANSI standard carries with it the thinking of key professionals from the safety arena.

“The new standard basically creates a new protocol or program to help employers develop the core components of workplace violence prevention programs,” Mr. Lane said. “It raises the bar of responsibility for employers beyond just adhering to the general duty clause of the OSH Act.”

Given the ready availability of workplace violence mitigation and training programs, Mr. Lane added that companies are well-served to proactively address the issue.

“When incidents happen, employers are going to have to answer to their level of preparedness and whether it meets best practices,” he said.